And so begins a new chapter in my own journey with chronic disease

Today will be my last day not being on a drug that I will take for the rest of my life. As of tomorrow I will come to rely on a drug so I can move the left side of my body normally again. But with this comes hope that I’ll be able to use my body in the way that I did before my nervous system decided to stop working a year and a half ago. I look forward to dancing normally, doing yoga, typing with my fingers (Yes I’m dictating this with my voice), and I look forward to walking without people asking me why I’m so stiff. Already with an herbal called Mucuna I’m getting a hint to what it’ll be like. With taking a small amount of this herb, I have energy again and feel like myself. My skin is no longer too tight on my body, I no longer feel so twitchy and out of sorts and I’m not as painful because of the rigidity in my muscles.

Three days ago I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. It didn’t come as a total surprise, I’ve been having symptoms for almost two years, although I’ve been hoping for a long time that I have a disease called dystonia, which isn’t so great anyway. You would think with this diagnosis but I would feel sad and fearful. But really I don’t, I have found that I’ve smiled more in the last few days than I have in awhile. This came as a surprise to me also, I had no idea I would respond to this outcome like this. In many ways it is freeing to know what I have, it’s an illness I share with many many people in this world. There are treatments for it and there’s promise that there will be better treatments and even a cure for it within my lifetime.

And I’m finding that I don’t want to fight this but I am convinced that it can be cured or kept in check by embracing it. I think the key is actually accepting it but not letting it take over my life.

In my cancer book I wrote “And in embracing life fully, I found that these dogs and cats didn’t progress into death. Once we have embraced death fully there is nothing left but to live. And live they did!” While I do not have a death diagnosis I feel the same. I plan on living fully! I look at the animals I treat that have cancer who live a long time and in many cases they aren’t in remission but their body has learned how to live with the cancer within it and it is not the cancer that kills them or even makes him sick. Many of them died of normal old age changes and live better lives than if they had not been diagnosed with cancer. So I think the key is finding peace within my body, within the fact that I will have to take drugs probably for the rest of my life. I think the key is opening my eyes to each day and not regretting anything that I don’t do. I think how to live with this disease, is to find happiness in every step of the way and to appreciate everything in every moment. To not say I’ll do that in 10 years, to let go of all resentments, to take ownership of living my own life in the best way possible. To find joy and move towards joy. When I am eighty someday, and no Parkinson’s does not kill you, I want to look back and not have any regrets of the things I didn’t do, especially the things I didn’t do while I could still do them. This is really no different for any of us whether we have a chronic disease or not.

Everyday I plan on telling my dopamine producing cells in my brain how much I love them and care about them. I plan on getting myself in the best physical shape possible and everyday making a conscious decision to move towards joy. I get to dance again!

I have not been me for a long time, if it takes a drug or two to make me me again, that’s okay. I look forward to what the future holds and I’m ready to meet it with open arms.

One last thing, please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t and you being sorry for me doesn’t help me. This is part of my journey and I plan on learning and growing, loving and living!


2 Responses to “And so begins a new chapter in my own journey with chronic disease”

  1. Ruth Maslin Says:

    Hello…l am Vic Shorten’s cousin. Several of my cousins have Parkinson’s and are doing well . They use a lot of determination along with a treatment plan. My one cousin (73yrs old), just returned from a biking trip thru Spain ! I will be looking forward to hear about your journey…

  2. Lena Says:

    Thank you Ruth! It seems like one of the most important things is staying active and engaged with the world.